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Gov. Rick Scott's $25M by January campaign target might be a stretch

"I will have $25 million in the bank by the end of the year and will use it in early 2014 to define my opponent," Gov. Rick Scott declared last week.

Translation: Even Charlie Crist won't want to vote for himself by the time Scott's campaign team is through with him.

Nobody doubts Scott will have a vast campaign account for his re-election, but $25 million on hand by January?

Unless he's planning to dig into his own $84 million net worth (and that doesn't include his wife's money), the governor will have to spend A LOT of time raising money over the next five months.

His Let's Get to Work committee had $13.2 million on hand as of July 31, and so far this year he's hauled in an average of $1.3 million a month (July was slow with a mere $563,000 raised). To get to $25 million in the bank, Scott will have to raise another $12 million by year's end, requiring an average monthly haul of $2.4 million. That's about $80,000 a day.

And that's not even factoring in expenses. So far this election cycle, Let's Get to Work has spent more than $1.3 million, including nearly $930,000 for consultants ($475,000 to his fundraiser, Forward Strategies, and $202,000 for his pollster and top strategist, Fabrizio McLaughlin & Associates). Weirdly but generously, Let's Get to Work also spent more than $112,000 on holiday ornaments sold by the foundation that supports the Governor's Mansion.

Among the top Tampa Bay contributors to Scott's campaign committee this year? St. Petersburg residents David Dyer, James MacDougald, Ronald Wanek and Mel Sembler gave $25,000, as did Tampa residents Kelly Sue O'Brien, John Kirtley and Tom Arthur. James Gills Jr. of Tarpon Springs, Leslie Muma of Belleair, William McGill of Clearwater and James Holton of Madeira Beach also gave $25,000.

McCain: Crist is in mix

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., says Charlie Crist would be a tough candidate if he decides to challenge Gov. Rick Scott, as expected.

"There are a lot of people who thought he did a good job when he was governor," McCain told Buzz. "Everything I hear from my friends in Florida is he's going to be very competitive."

McCain said it was a couple months ago when he last spoke with Crist — who got passed over for Sarah Palin as McCain's pick for vice president in 2008 — and added that he's not surprised Crist became a Democrat. "He was real angry with the whole scenario that took place."

Would you help his campaign? "I couldn't do that. But I'm not sure I could campaign against him," McCain said.

Crist, you may recall, played a big role in the Arizona senator securing the Republican nomination in 2008. Crist, the then-popular Republican governor, gave a surprise last-minute endorsement that helped McCain win the critical Florida primary.

Putnam talks Cabinet

Florida's unique power-sharing executive branch system gives the Florida Cabinet broad power to oversee, along with the governor, everything from state law enforcement and highway safety to pension investments to child support enforcement and acquiring and managing state land. Watching a Cabinet meeting, though, is about as suspenseful as watching the sun rise because very little occurs.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam would like to see a little more give and take.

"There is some frustration on my part that there has been a reluctance to agenda items unless they're either completely noncontroversial or 100 percent ready to go and sail through," he said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9. "I think the public is well-served when they get to see … the governor and three Cabinet members work through these issues in an open forum and get an insight into the thought process. I think the Cabinet system works, I think it should be used more fully, and I think the public benefits when they get to see how those decisions are arrived at."

Putnam also discusses citrus greening (a citrus tree disease), the governor's race and his relief to be out of Washington in the interview airing at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Voters favor 'stand'

Voters across America support "stand your ground" laws 53 percent to 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released Friday.

White voters support "stand your ground" laws 57 to 37 percent while black voters are opposed 57 to 37 percent. Men support the laws 62 to 34 percent while women are divided, with 44 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed. Seventy-five percent of Republicans and 57 percent of independents support stand your ground while 62 percent of Democrats oppose the laws.

"Stand your ground splits the country sharply along political, gender and racial lines," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "With these kinds of numbers, it's unlikely the movement to repeal stand your ground will be successful in most of the country."

Connie Humburg contributed to this week's Buzz. Adam Smith can be reached at asmith@tampabay.com.

Winner of the week

Charles Swindle. Fired in March over his handling of traffic stops involving two state legislators, Swindle was reinstated last week by the Public Employees Relations Commission. The case brought to light the highway patrol's longstanding unwritten policy of going easy on lawmakers pulled over for speeding.

Loser of the week

Rick Scott. Education Commissioner Tony Bennett's resignation amid questions about whether he gamed the school grading system in Indiana for a generous donor is only the latest sign of turmoil in the Scott administration. Among the casualties of controversy or scandal over the past 15 months: Chief of Staff Steve MacNamara; Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson; Department of Economic Opportunity director Hunting Deutsch; Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll; Department of Children & Families secretary David Wilkins.

Gov. Rick Scott's $25M by January campaign target might be a stretch 08/03/13 [Last modified: Saturday, August 3, 2013 9:39pm]
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